Throngs Rush For Jobs in NYC

          On March 22, 1933  FDR went before Congress with his Civilian Conservation Corps idea and announced  “This enterprise is an established part of our national policy” which will “pay dividends to the present and future generations.”

    FDR would ask  for the power to quickly set 250,000 men at temporary work in reforestation and flood control by the summer of 1933.  He would also mention the devastating  floods then occurring on the Ohio and other rivers to drive home his proposal.        Senate bill S-598 bill passed on March 31, 1933 and before the final vote Representative Oscar Stanton De Priest, Rep from Illinois,  added an anti discrimination rider that outlawed: discrimination because of race, color, creed, or criminal records .  

     Now the success of the program depended on the speed in which it would be implemented and in order to make an immediate start  seventeen large cities across the US were given the initial quota of 25,000.

     Not surprisingly the Department of War was ready.

     Weeks earlier, in anticipation of the bills passage, agencies and departments began to prepare.  the Army, would induct, organize, equip and transport the volunteers. they divided the nation into 9 corps areas.

     the Depts. of Agriculture and Interior would investigate and draft plans for camp projects and locations.

     Dept of Labor would be responsible for the selections of  the enrollees and they  did not have, in April of 1933,  the network of a national organization.  when the states were given quotas the local relief agencies needed to quickly adjust to the selection process.  A daunting task in the days before texting, Go To Meeting  and Smartphones.

       when Harry Hopkins, Director of  Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), announced from Washington, DC that CCC enrollment would begin the next day the Army, in the 2nd corps area, which included NYC acted immediately. 

     On April 6, 1933, at their 39 Whitehall Street Army headquarters , “rolling kitchens” were ready to feed the recruits and buses were waiting to transport them to army posts for conditioning.

But, no applicants arrived.   

     Thousands of men had visited relief agency after agency in a disappointing quest for information concerning enrollment.  Because the NY State relief organizations and NY State Labor Department had not received instructions from Washington the footsore men were informed that no registration would be possible.

    By the next morning a system was in place and the NY state relief agencies sent out 2,300 investigators with thousands of  enrollment blanks to call on families who were  already home relief clients.  they informed the families of the program, authorized the selection of eligible volunteers and directed the boys to the local relief office for completion of the application.   Once “certified” the boys would report to Army induction headquarters, on Whitehall Street.  after a physical examination they were transported to nearby Army posts for conditioning. Eventually being assigned to their final destination, a CCC camp for a 6 month tour.   

     At  5:25 PM that evening a taxi arrived at the Whitehall Street induction entrance with the first “certified” volunteer, Fiore Rizzo, age 19. Rizzo had traveled from Harlems’ eastside with three other “approved” neighborhood buddies.   The  trip downtown rang up a 65 cent cab fare.   The future CCC Boys emptied their pockets and pooled their funds, among  them they had  50 cents.

    Army Captain Ernest R. Percy made up the difference and the first of  new Yorks CCC “Forest Army” were on their way.


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Throngs Rush For Jobs in NYC

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